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Behind NYC’s ‘Fearless Girl’ Statue Are 2 Corporate Giants

The aim of the Fearless Girl was to build what ad experts call a "brand experience" of a product or message, using some kind of creative, unique vehicle

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People stop to photograph the "Fearless Girl" statue, Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in New York. The statue was installed by investment firm State Street Global Advisors. An inscription at the base reads, “Know the power of women in leadership. She makes a difference.” (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A bronze of a little girl defiantly facing Wall Street’s Charging Bull didn’t appear suddenly or spontaneously in the middle of the night in Manhattan’s financial district.

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It took months of intricate planning by two corporate giants to install “Fearless Girl” under the veil of darkness in time for Wednesday’s International Women’s Day. Within hours, she became the talk of the town and the world, a sculpted celebrity drawing crowds as a symbol of a woman’s right to move into power positions.

Behind the scenes, State Street Global Advisors, a $2.5 trillion asset managing firm, created the Fearless Girl project with McCann New York, one of the world’s top ad agencies whose client is State Street. The financial giant wanted to spread a serious message: that more women should be appointed to the boards of the Russell 3000, a broad index of U.S. companies.

FILE - A statue titled Fearless Girl faces the Wall Street bull in New York, March 7, 2017.

FILE – A statue titled Fearless Girl faces the Wall Street bull in New York, March 7, 2017.

Only 16 percent of board seats in Russell 3000 companies are held by women, according to ISS Analytics, a business research firm. Also on State Street’s radar are about 500 other firms in Great Britain and Australia.

The aim of the Fearless Girl was to build what ad experts call a “brand experience” of a product or message, using some kind of creative, unique vehicle — in this case, a sculpture, created by artist Kristen Visbal.

“This thing went viral, and it spread globally, all over,” McCann spokesman Jeremy Miller said. “I’m watching my Twitter feed and it’s still a constant flow, filled with images of the Fearless Girl.”

“In my 20 years in advertising, I personally have not seen anything like this,” he added.

On Thursday, streams of gleeful fans posed for pictures with the 250-pound Fearless Girl statue as she stared down the 7,000-pound Charging Bull.

McCann obtained a one-week permit from the city before starting the installation in Bowling Green Park at 4 a.m. Tuesday, completing it as the sun rose on another New York business day.

The ad agency wasn’t trying to be secretive.

“We just didn’t want to disrupt business in the area,” Miller said.

And they wanted to mirror the 1989 arrival of the girl’s bronze counterpart.

The Charging Bull was dropped into place in the middle of a Manhattan night by artist Arturo Di Modica and his team, who had no permit. The powerful piece was a symbol of Americans’ can-do energy following the 1987 stock market crash, and it proved so popular that the city allowed the bull to stay.

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At the end of International Women’s Day on Wednesday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that Fearless Girl could remain in Lower Manhattan through April 2. Popular support for the piece to be kept permanently is growing, with petitions being signed.

“Our future rests in the hands of fearless girls,” the Democratic mayor tweeted. (VOA)

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Amazon Signs a Lease for New Office Space in Manhattan

New Amazon Lease for NY Space Renews Debate Over Failed Deal

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Amazon has signed a lease for a new office space in Manhattan, NY, that will accommodate around 1,500 employees. Pixabay

Amazon has signed a lease for a new office space in Manhattan that will house more than 1,500 employees, less than a year after pulling out of a deal for a larger headquarters in the borough of Queens after politicians and activists objected to nearly $3 billion in incentives.

The new office almost immediately renewed a debate over whether the tax breaks and other incentives were excessive, given the likelihood that Amazon would continue to expand in New York City regardless because of the city’s large talent pool. The online retail giant received no incentives for its new 335,000-square-foot complex in a building near Hudson Yards, a high-end commercial and residential development on the west side in midtown Manhattan.

Amazon said the new office will open in 2021 and will house employees from its consumer and advertisement teams. The Seattle-based company already has 3,500 employees in other New York offices, and the headquarters for its subsidiary Audible is in nearby Newark, New Jersey.

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The Long Island Railroad storage yards and buildings at Hudson Yards in New York. Amazon said the new office in a building near Hudson Yards will open in 2021. VOA

“As we shared earlier this year, we plan to continue to hire and grow organically across our 18 tech hubs, including New York City,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.

Amazon dropped plans this year to build a $2.5 billion campus in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City that was projected to bring 25,000 new jobs over 15 years. The company had chosen Long Island City for one of two new headquarters after a fierce bidding war among more than 200 metropolitan areas that Amazon itself had stoked. The state and city had offered $2.8 billion in incentives that included $1.5 billion in tax breaks and grants, and a helipad near the new offices.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had lashed out at politicians and activists whose campaign helped unravel the Queens project, saying it threatened to undermine New York City’s emergence as tech hub and squandered an opportunity to generate money for schools, housing and transit. Critics of the incentives package swiftly cited Amazon’s latest corporate lease to argue those fears were unfounded.

“Amazon is coming to New York, just as they always planned. Fortunately, we dodged a $3 billion bullet by not agreeing to their subsidy shakedown earlier this year,” New York state Sen. Michael Gianaris said in a statement.

Cuomo pushed back against the reaction, saying the Queens headquarters would have brought in more jobs and the new office will not benefit Long Island City.

“This is crumbs from the table compared to a feast,” Cuomo said. “We don’t have a problem bringing businesses to Manhattan but we have been trying for decades to get that Queens waterfront developed.”

Mayor Bill DeBlasio had blamed Amazon for pulling out of the deal prematurely. His office did so again Saturday, while lamenting that Long Island City had lost out on Amazon’s expansion plans.

“Amazon couldn’t take the heat and didn’t want to work in good faith with New Yorkers. Now, New York is getting just a fraction of the jobs and Queens is getting none of the benefits,” said Jane Meyer, a spokeswoman for the mayor.

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Amazon will house employees from its consumer and advertisement teams. (Representational image). Pixabay

Even before the deal unraveled, experts said Amazon’s choice of New York City underscored that its main concern when it comes to expansion is access to talent at a time of fierce competition for computer programmers, mobile app developers, data scientists and cybersecurity experts. The company is continuing with its plans to build another headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. that is also a emerging tech hub.

New York has a thriving start-up scene, and big tech companies are already rapidly expanding their presence in the city.

Facebook announced a deal last month to lease 1.5 million square feet of office space in Hudson Yards. Google and Instagram have also opened new offices in recent years.

“Ultimately, what Amazon needs is qualified tech talent and that’s why it needs to be in New York,” said Joe Parilla, a fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institute.

Still, Parilla said the large incentive package was targeted at luring Amazon to one of New York’s outer boroughs, which have not benefited from the tech boom like Manhattan has.

“Everyone who was pushing for this investment understood that New York would be fine either way overall. Within that context, they were trying to make a more precise argument, which is that Long Island City was not reaping the benefits,” Parilla said.

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat who represents a Queens district near Long Island City, said officials had been offering costly incentives in exchange for a promise of jobs that were not guaranteed.

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“The 25,000 jobs figure was a 10-20 year fantasy … from Amazon, not a promise or agreement,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet.

She added that the 1,500 new jobs Amazon is now adding “are for FREE.” (VOA)